PARIS (AFP) - Holders Inter Milan, 2009 champions Barcelona and last season's semi-finalists Lyon can all reach the last 16 of this season's Champions League with victories in the group stage on Tuesday.
Inter, who ended a 45-year wait for Europe's top club prize in May, face perhaps the most difficult assignment of the three in the shape of a trip to competition debutants Tottenham in Group A.
The sides shared seven goals when they met in Milan 12 days ago, but despite Inter having led 4-0 after 35 minutes, Spurs emerged from the game with real credit thanks to a stunning second-half hat-trick by Gareth Bale.
Bale's performance at the San Siro prompted his coach Harry Redknapp to label the 21-year-old Welshman one of the world's top left-sided players, and his late cameo gave Inter boss Rafael Benitez plenty of food for thought.
"The return match in London will be tough," said Benitez, who spent six years at the helm of Spurs' Premier League rivals Liverpool.
"Tottenham are a quality team and despite their bad start they showed what they are capable of in the second half."
Spurs were beaten 2-0 at Manchester United on Saturday, but of more concern to Redknapp will have been a hamstring injury to Rafael van der Vaart that forced the in-form Dutch playmaker to go off in the second half.
Inter have had an extra day to prepare for the match following their 1-0 win at Genoa on Friday, but they could be without goalkeeper Julio Cesar and holding midfielder Esteban Cambiasso after both players sustained thigh strains.
Werder Bremen and FC Twente meet in the other group game in Germany, with both sides conscious that victory would take them into second place if Inter prevail at White Hart Lane.
Barcelona visit FC Copenhagen in Group D, fresh from a stunning 5-0 demolition of Sevilla in the league on Saturday inspired by the return from injury of midfield lynchpin Xavi.
"We're not better than we were before because we've won 5-0, but we are on the right track," tempered Barca midfielder Andres Iniesta, after a game in which both Lionel Messi and David Villa scored twice.
"Tuesday's game is important for our future and we have to play very well."
Lyon brought an end to a turbulent week by beating Sochaux 2-1 at the weekend, after president Jean-Michel Aulas ended weeks of speculation by confirming that Claude Puel will stay on as coach until the end of the season.
The 2002-2008 French champions, eliminated by Bayern Munich in the semi-finals last season, have won all three of their group phase games to date but Tuesday's trip to Benfica will be their most taxing assignment yet.
Pablo Aimar scored a stunning solo goal as the Portuguese champions beat Pacos de Ferreira 2-0 in the league on Friday and Aulas says he would be happy to return from the Stadium of Light with a point.
"A draw in Lisbon and we could start thinking about finishing top of the group," he said. "We definitely can't afford to lose."
In the group's other game, Hapoel Tel-Aviv must win at home to second-placed Schalke to avoid elimination.
Group C leaders Manchester United travel to Turkey to tackle bottom side Bursaspor, having edged the Turkish champions 1-0 in their last outing.
Sir Alex Ferguson's team are yet to concede a goal in this season's competition and victory would give them 10 points from four games, taking them to the brink of the knockout phase.
"We are on a run that suggests we have recovered our old tenacity and composure," said Ferguson after the defeat of Spurs at Old Trafford.
"We have come through well in three different competitions, so it's been a morale-boosting run that I hope will be the launch pad for demonstrating that there is nothing materially wrong."
Valencia, meanwhile, can leapfrog Rangers into second place if they beat the Scottish champions at the Mestalla.
|Barkley ´obsessed´ with becoming world-class at Chelsea|
|Conte defends Chelsea amid surprise Carroll & Crouch links|
|Guardiola wants ´three or four´ signings but rules out Sanchez alternative|
|Atlanta United wrap up Barco signing for MLS record fee|
|Derby County 0 Bristol City 0: Penalty controversy in goalless draw|
|Hertha Berlin 1 Borussia Dortmund 1: Kagawa equalises in Aubameyang´s absence|
|Brighton break transfer record for Locadia|
|Dortmund still waiting on ´concrete´ offer for Aubameyang|
|Can will ´give everything´ at Liverpool despite Juventus talks|
|One Direction star trained with Mourinho´s Chelsea|
|Goretzka asks Schalke fans to not turn on him after agreeing Bayern deal|
|Van Persie secures return to Feyenoord|
|Conte should replace Wenger at Arsenal, claims Carragher|
|Kimmich named Germany’s 2017 Player of the Year|
|Moyes denies scouting Batshuayi and deals Chelsea blow with Carroll injury|
|No one like Ronaldinho until Messi - Guardiola lavishes praise on Brazil great|
|Simeone shrugs off mentality concerns at Atletico Madrid|
|Going for gold? Neymar meets Beckham in matching jackets|
|You think I change my mind that quick? – Klopp faithful to No.1 Karius|
|Conte backs Morata to overcome disciplinary concerns|
|Lloris a doubt for Southampton game, confirms Pochettino|
|Klopp doubts Alexis Sanchez tug-of-war decided by money|
|Conte admits Pedro dived|
|Valencia tie down Torres amid Real Madrid, Barcelona reports|
|Congratulations! Guardiola offers well wishes to United-bound Sanchez|
|Pele pulls out of London event amid conflicting health reports|
|Conte would be ´happy´ for transfer help|
|Sanchez to United not done at all, insists Mourinho|
|Emery refuses to indulge Neymar-Cavani penalty debate|
|Goretzka chose Bayern over England, Spain and Italy – Heynckes|
|I would reject such players – Heynckes slams ´selfish´ Aubameyang|
|Western Sydney Wanderers 0 Melbourne Victory 3: Barbarouses extends purple patch|
|Conte likes Dzeko but Chelsea have made no offer, says agent|
|Goretzka´s Bayern move good for Bundesliga, suggests Rummenigge|
|Walcott left Arsenal with his things in bin bags|
|Schalke confirm Goretzka will join Bayern|
|Sergi Roberto renews Barca deal until 2022|
|Fernandinho seals extended Manchester City contract|
|Ceballos knee knock to be assessed after Real Madrid Copa win|
|Hamsik has no doubts over Napoli future|
|Corchia determined to repay Montella´s faith at Sevilla|
|Arsenal or Manchester United – who wins from the Sanchez-Mkhitaryan deal?|
|I would love to coach PSG – Mancini|
|Merson: Mkhitaryan will be a sensation at Arsenal|
|Wins over substance for Varane and Real Madrid|
|Arsenal´s Giroud the answer for Chelsea, says Parlour|
|Wenger: Sanchez exit won´t hurt like Van Persie|
|Zidane hopes late Leganes win is turning point for Real Madrid|
|De Gea happy to delay Man Utd contract talks|
|Leganes 0 Real Madrid 1: Asensio´s late goal lifts pressure on Zidane in Copa quarter-final|
|Toulalan follows Gourvennec out of Bordeaux|
|Dortmund´s Durm suffers torn ankle ligaments|
|Chelsea send Nathan to Belenenses on loan|
|Chelsea in talks over deal for Roma full-back Emerson|
|Gravel for breakfast but no worms on Dyche´s menu|
|Dybala is no Messi - Laudrup thinks comparisons are unfair|
|Dortmund leave Aubameyang out amid Arsenal links|
|Koulibaly would stay at Napoli ´forever´|
|Neymar´s PSG contract has no release clause, lawyer claims|
|Robben relaxed over Bayern contract talks as other clubs circle|
|Henderson returns to Liverpool training|
|Football´s biggest release clauses - Pique joins Messi, Ronaldo and LaLiga´s big boys|
|No offers for Evans yet, says West Brom boss Pardew|
|Stafylidis seals Stoke switch|
|Worry about your own team - Dortmund slam Wenger´s Aubameyang pursuit|
|Praet denies agreeing deal to join Juventus|
|No BBC for Real Madrid´s Leganes clash|
|Stoke close to Stafylidis signing|
|Brisbane Roar 3 Perth Glory 2: Holman settles five-goal thriller|
|Gourvennec leaves Bordeaux after seventh defeat in eight games|
|Pique agrees new long-term Barcelona contract|
|Wenger rules out Ozil sale as talks continue over Wilshere deal|
|Sanchez-Mkhitaryan deal close, says Wenger|
|Meunier blasts ´disgraceful´ PSG fans after Neymar boos|
|Pique demands better at Camp Nou after Espanyol ´insults´|
|Schweinsteiger re-signs with Chicago Fire for 2018|
|Juve trying everything to sign Can, says Marotta|
|Rooney convinced me to join Everton – Walcott|
|Simeone: Sevilla deserved their win|
|Conte calls for VAR improvements|
|Neymar not angered by PSG whistles - Silva|
|FA Cup Review: Wigan dump Bournemouth out, nine-man Chelsea scrape through|
|Valverde rues Barca profligacy in Espanyol defeat|